Those unaware with Erin McCarley should make it today’s mission to get familiar as soon as…
Making her name over two records as an alternative singer-songwriter, Erin McCarley is on her way to becoming the household name she rightfully deserves. Her track I Can Be Somebody landed itself as the promotion song to Dancing With The Stars, amassing 34 million Spotify streams in the process alongside song appearances in the likes of Nashville, The Vampire Diaries and Grey’s Anatomy to name but a few.
Back with her independently released third record YU YĪ, the artist has turned her sights to the world of politically-charged pop with record-standout Sexicon finally getting the video treatment that any great pop track calls out for.
In line with the release of the video, we quizzed Erin on her latest project and how Sexicon came to be. Read her (pretty detailed) responses below and take a look at the video straight after:
YU YĪ is a far more political departure than your previous material – can you run us through some of the inspiration?
The human condition was my biggest inspiration for YU YĪ… all of the anxiety, fear, arousal, isolation, sadness, connection between others, etc that can come from the underlying and overwhelming unconscious feeling of why we are here on this planet. We live in a time that is very layered. Our minds and bodies are dealing with so many sensory overloads and triggers.
This record is openly reactive to what anxiety feels like, to the political climate that was affecting me and the people around me, and to not feel afraid to talk about being frustrated and shaken. My ultimate desire is to be awake and my hope is that my voice will spawn the ability for others to take another step forward. YU YĪ has a balance of power, aggression, subtlety, pleading, focus, sex, and empowerment… a consciousness about it. The 2016 election threw another layer of energy into this record. I scrapped 5 songs and replaced them with post-election written tunes. I was unable to stay quiet. Every cowrite would wind up in hours of discussions and sharing thoughts of “WTF is going on”? or “Where is the decency and the moral code?” If a record is personal, it is going to hit on what you are currently going through. The political climate was a big occupant in my personal space at the time of making this record, and it definitely took the front seat.
Pop music and sexuality have always gone hand in hand – how did you approach writing Sexicon? Was it an easy track to create?
It all happened very organically. I worked with a friend and fellow musician/producer friend of mine named Evan Hutchings on writing the track in Nashville. He cooked a groove up before I got to the studio, and I immediately fell in love with the attitude and playfulness of the direction. It felt like a seduction without being overtly sexual. And that was the basis of our whole approach. We had fun not taking ourselves too seriously. I enlisted Natalie Hemby (Labrinth, Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert) when we wrote the lyrics and she and I came up with the term Sexicon… we saw it as a symbol for the language of sex (A play off of the word ‘lexicon’).
How did the concept for the video come about?
The visuals for this whole album have been a parallel to all of the sounds we were creating in the studio.
For the Sexicon video, I teamed up with a friend of mine in LA that is a wonderful dancer and choreographer named Melissa Schade (SIA, Juliette Lewis). We met on set of another video shoot and she was such a bright light that day that kept me smiling. We wound up hitting it off and stayed in touch and always said we would love to do a video one day that would make it out into the world.
While making YU YĪ, I sent her a few songs and she really gravitated towards Sexicon and approached me about making a video for the song alongside director Rene Vas. Rene’s treatment was built on John Steinbeck’s quote: “What freedom men and women could have, were they not constantly tricked and trapped and enslaved and tortured by their sexuality!” An intoxication; an anticipation; a subtly expressed desire. We wanted it to feel ambiguous on any one person’s perceived sexuality. Therefore, creating a freedom within a dance of spirit, beauty, and self-awareness. The dancers involved in the video were so unique and beautiful within and outwardly expressed the perfect emotion for this song. I admire the life of a dancer and am forever grateful for them to share their art with me and everyone else. Matt Delisi kicked ass on the edit and brought out the quirkiness and dimensional aspect of the track.
Having tackled YU YĪ as an independent artist, what were the biggest challenges and successes you found whilst making the record?
I’m naturally a perfectionist and a 4 on the Enneagram. My process can be long and thorough and can sometimes make me feel like I’m melting my own skin off. Haha. So, I would say the biggest challenge was to let things go and trust that they would find the right place in the world to exist if I did the best I could. I really enjoyed making the record with friends in Nashville. I found that to be the most gratifying part of the process. The recordings, the visuals, the late nights, the frustrating world event conversations. And it was all on my own timeline. It felt exhilarating to be able to finish something and know that I could put it out the next day if I wanted to. The ultimate freedom. And I could be whatever I wanted to be as far as image. I had some major pushback on my image while working with management and labels on my second record, and it was defeating at times. With YU YĪ, I was able to push any boundary and have my fellow creatives by my side pushing me to go even further. Very powerful self-realizations happened and I busted through some unhealthy internal dialogues in the process.
Photo credit: Fairlight Hubbard
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